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review 2018-10-05 18:30
OUT BEHIND THE BARN by Chad Lutzke and John Boden
Out Behind the Barn - Chad Lutzke,John Boden

 

OUT BEHIND THE BARN is totally original, weird and creepy. I loved it!

 

That said, this is not the type of story I've come to expect from either of these authors. I've enjoyed the work of John Boden for years now and what I always expect from him is beautiful writing and poignancy. I expect the same from Chad Lutzke as well, just slightly less poetic, maybe? I'm not sure what I expected from this novella, but it was not this strange story of Maggie, her farm and her boys.

 

Davey and Ronny are watching when Maggie gets home and carefully unloads her burden into the barn. Then an arm drops down from her carefully wrapped package. This has happened before, so they are not surprised or alarmed. Will the package work this time? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I'm finding it very difficult to review this book without giving anything away. It was short, spellbinding, mysterious, creative and suspenseful. Once the mystery is revealed, the problem remains as to how the characters will deal with it, and that's where the poignancy I expect from both of these authors showed up-in a big way.

 

The only issue I had with this story is that I expected to see one more chapter regarding a certain character's reaction to those poignant events. Then again, maybe that would have spoiled how I imagined that reaction went down?

 

OUT BEHIND THE BARN is a powerful piece of work, in spite of, (or perhaps because of of?), its short length. Either way, it affected me, and I'll be thinking about the boys and Maggie's farm for a long time.

 

Highly recommended!

 

*I received an e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it!*

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review 2018-08-01 18:45
THE AUCTIONEER by Joan Samson, narrated by Matt Godfrey
The Auctioneer: Valancourt 20th Century Classics - Matt Godfrey,Valancourt Books,Joan Samson

 

 Evil in a small town is one of my favorite horror tropes and books like this are the reason why!

 

Harlowe, New Hampshire is a small town surrounded by small farms. It's a tightly knit community, or at least the townsfolk believe it is, until an outsider comes to town and things begin to unravel.

 

Perly Dunsmore is an auctioneer. Taking over a recently available old mansion in town, (due to the death of the previous owner), Perly sets about "improving" Harlowe by holding auctions to benefit the police department. These auctions are funded by the generous donations of the townspeople. Until they're no longer able to do so, (eventually there's nothing left), in which case they are gently and quietly threatened to come up with more donations, or ELSE. Will Harlowe survive these auctions or will it rise up against Perly in protest? You'll have to read this to find out!

 

I've been thinking about what this novel was really about and I'm still not quite sure. The strongest feeling I have about it relates to that old poem: "First they came for the Socialists...", but that's not quite right. Then I was wondering if it was really about fascism-the auctions after all first funded a police department, to the point of having almost as many officers and deputies as there were citizens in the entire town. But that doesn't quite fit the bill either, especially in light of the finale. Then I finally gave up the analyzing and endeavored to enjoy this novel for the yummy, atmospheric piece of horror fiction that it was.

 

If this is the type of story that usually works for you, (quiet, small town horror a la Tryon's HARVEST HOME, or maybe Michael Rowe's ENTER, NIGHT), I highly recommend you give this book a shot! I listened to it on audio, narrated by Matt Godfrey, whose voicing of Ma Moore I will never forget.

 

Atmospheric, full of tension and palpable fear, THE AUCTIONEER still holds up as an excellent tale, even now, 40 years later. I give it my highest recommendation!

 

*I received this audiobook gratis from the narrator in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it! Further, I consider Matt Godfrey to be a friend, although we've never met in person. This has not affected the content of this review.*

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review 2018-07-16 22:30
HYSTERIA by Stephanie M. Wytovich, narrated by Teagan Gardner
Hysteria: A Collection of Madness - Stephanie M. Wytovich,Steven Archer,Michael A. Arnzen,Teagan Gardner

The entire time I was listening to this poetry collection, THE YELLOW WALLPAPER by Charlotte Perkins Gilman was in the back of my mind. HYSTERIA is about women and their likelihood of falling victim to men, to the world, to their children...and back again to the men. Unlike Gilman's story though, in HYSTERIA, the women often rise up and take what's due. I loved it!

 

I've admitted it before, but I will again here so we're clear, poetry is generally not my thing. But women are-especially strong women, women who have been through things in their life, women for whom life has not been easy. Most of this volume focuses on them, which is why, (I think), it speaks to me so intimately.

 

There are a lot of poems within and I can't get into all of them here, but I especially loved GREED, PLAYMATE OF THE NIGHT and GUARDIAN ANGEL:

 

"...lock me up somewhere else/you say the wrong thing around here, people start to think you're crazy, like madness is some contagion you breathe in through the air/I just told them that sweet Jezebel didn't like it when the men talk to her like that/when they visited her in her cell and touched her pretty face/ran their fingers through her silky hair/they beat me to get out my crazy..."

 

I found Stephanie Wytovich's prose to be killer: in bringing to mind vivid renderings of women-abused, crazy, strong, wild, beautiful, ugly, willful, sexy and with TEETH. Don't turn your back on these women, especially if you've done them wrong in the past. At the same time, some of these ladies are kind and nurturing, or at least they were... before they were diagnosed with HYSTERIA.

 

Highly recommended for fans of poetry and dark fiction!

 

*Thank you to Stephanie M. Wytovich for the free Audible copy of this book, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-07-04 15:10
BROKEN ON THE INSIDE by Phil Sloman
Broken on the Inside - Phil Sloman

 

BROKEN ON THE INSIDE is not only the title, but also the theme of this book. Containing 5 short tales, each featuring a person in distress, I couldn't help but feel for them all.

 

 

BROKEN ON THE INSIDE- the title story, starred a woman who's had enough of her mother. So much so that it's making her physically sick. When a doctor tells her he can cure her with nanotechnology she jumps on the chance. But just like her mother said, it wasn't all that easy. (Why are mothers always right? It's enough to drive one crazy.)

 

 

DISCOMFORT FOOD This tale is about another young woman, this one working at a fast food burger joint. One night her manager goes a little too far in his harassment of her and she is forced to react. Never again will dinner time be the same.

 

THE MAN WHO FED THE FOXES is a sad narrative about a lonely man who has let his beautiful garden go to pot. When a group of foxes take up living in his abandoned paradise, he begins to feed them a special diet, and they bring him unusual gifts in return.

 

THERE WAS AN OLD MAN In this tale John Hinklow is a gentlemen rather obsessed with having swallowed a fly. Rightfully so, it turns out.

 

VIRTUALLY FAMOUS was a weird little story about a man named Chet who became addicted to a game-The Game. In it, players can opt to be Chet, (the star), , or to be other people in the story-line. But what happens when the main player begins playing himself? In the end it becomes difficult to determine who was the real Chet and which was the Chet in the game. Whether it be gaming or drugs, addictions are dangerous.

 

These stories were all heavy hitters and combined, make up this powerful narrative as a whole. I enjoyed it as entertaining storytelling on one level, but it also caused me to think deeply about life as we know it and how we go about living that life. Every single person in this book had problems-addictions and obsessions. They were broken on the inside. This led me to thinking about the people I know and even myself. Aren't we all BROKEN ON THE INSIDE in one way or another?

 

Highly recommended for fans of extremely well written dark fiction!

 

Get your copy here: BROKEN ON THE INSIDE

 

*I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*

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review 2018-05-11 17:42
KILL CREEK by Scott Thomas, narrated by Bernard Setaro Clark
Kill Creek - Scott Thomas,Bernard Setaro Clark

Simply said, KILL CREEK was AWESOME! I've long been suspecting that a really good haunted house book was a thing of the past. I'm happy as hell to be proven wrong on that.

 

At first, I'm not going to lie, the standard trope of four people staying overnight in the oh-so scary house, did not impress me. But between the characters themselves, the background of the house, and how everyone came together, slowly this story began to win me over. In this case, we actually had 6 people staying overnight, on Halloween, to boot. Four famous horror authors, Wainwright, the man who orchestrated this affair, (being the founder of a website dedicated to all things horror), and his girlfriend Kate who is there to photograph any happenings. Then, (and get this surprising twist), not all that much happens and everyone goes home! So where's the scary stuff? What occurs that makes so many people rave about this book? Don't look at me, I'm not going to spoil it. You'll have to read it for yourself.

 

These characters burrowed down deep into my psyche, and I felt like I knew them all intimately. Every single one of them changed throughout, and be they good changes or bad, they were all different people by the denouement. I love that. I love unpredictability in both my books and my characters-who wants to read about boring flat Stanley?

 

The writing had a vivid feel to it and the author is terrific in his descriptive passages as well as with his dialogue. It all rang very true to me. I have to admit that I am impressed-even more so when I take into account that this is a debut novel. For many years, my favorite book was GHOST STORY by Peter Straub, and in my mind, I can't help but compare the two and KILL CREEK holds up to that comparison. That's the highest praise I can give.

 

Lastly, the narrator: Bernard Setaro Clark? You rock, man! You nailed it! What else is there to say?

 

I'm sure this audio will be in my top ten at the end of the year and as such it gets my highest recommendation. You should read it. Right now! Why are you still here? 

You can get your copy here: KILL CREEK

 

*I bought this e-book and the audio with my hard-earned cash and this opinion is my own.*

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